Billboard ad space donated to retired Henrico firefighter in need of kidney

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- For 35 years and one day, Grover Barnett dedicated his life to helping others as a firefighter for Henrico County.

Retired since 2008, Barnett is quick to tell you how he felt for those three and a half decades

"It was the best job I ever had and I miss it every day," said Barnett.

From 1973 to 2008, Barnett, who retired a Lieutenant, saw many changes in his job, from the fire trucks to the hose, to the equipment he wore every shift.

During his career, he rescued dozens of people and delivered two babies. Even a heart attack in 1993 didn't slow him down, giving another 15 years to the job.

But in 2011, a problem with is right kidney forced surgery to remove the damaged half. Then in 2017, his left kidney had to be removed, causing Barnett to have to get dialysis three times a week.

A few months ago, a phone call let him and his wife Sharron know he had been placed on the transplant list which left him wondering how to get the word out.

While he thought about taking out newspaper ads, his sister suggested contacting the billboard company, Lamar Advertising, which she did.

Turns out the digital billboards cost thousands of dollars each month, even a regular billboard is more than $1,000.

But it turns out, the questions she asked for her retired firefighter brother prompted a unique response from Lamar, they donated the billboard space.

"Oh I think it's the greatest thing on Earth," said Barnett.

Watching the digital billboard on West Broad Street

"It just melts my heart," said Lamar Ad Exec Amanda Doran. "He's an important part of this community."

The message is simple, Barnett risked his life saving others, now he needs saving.

"Every two weeks, there will be two boards in Henrico County that have this message on it, and will rotate for the next 3 months, just to spread that message to as many people as possible," said Doran.

The phone number on the billboard, 804-289-4941, goes to the transplant center at Henrico Doctors.

"The big picture would be maybe if they don't match me, they may match somebody else who is in need of a kidney" added Barnett.

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